Halo 3 Beta Quick Report: Parting Shots

So now it's over. For just about everybody. I thought I'd do one last collection of observations about the Beta before we begin the four months or so waiting for the Real Thing to arrive. However, before that happens, it's interesting to note that the beta didn't end at the same time for everybody...

Parting Shots Are Such Sweet Sorrow

Okay, so the beta didn't end at the same time for everybody. It was perhaps foreseeable that people would find stuff in the Beta that Bungie didn't really intend for public consumption. So it's perhaps not surprising that in addition to items located in the code, people found a way to access custom games, functionality that wasn't supposed to be available.

Without going into detail, the trick involved having a large party join a single user, with one of the large party being booted from the group and dumped into the Custom Games menu. After that, anyone could join that game, back out to the lobby, and they'd be left in a custom games menu as well, allowing the phenomenon to spread virally. One could almost have imagined Bungie did expect people to find it.

Of course, with LAN play and split-screen locked off, and custom games also supposedly unavailable, Bungie had an easy way of cutting everybody off from the beta: simply stopping the matchmaking service from their end. That left custom games as a loophole. Users who began custom games before the beta ended are still in them, and as long as they don't quit the beta or restart their 360s, there may not be any existing mechanism for stopping them.

Of course, once they do quit the beta or restart their boxes, that's it-- attempting to restart the beta results in the expiration message, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody's found a way past that yet.

If you're running a custom game, email me your gamertag, I'm interested to see who manages to keep it open the longest (and if anyone sacrifices a console to the cause).

UPDATE: This may be redundant now, as it seems there are still users in the Custom Games lobby, but who are unable to start games or join other parties. If anybody gets around this, let me know.

Swimming Upriver

There has been a lot of discussion since H2's release about weapon spawns. H1's weapons were on simple timers; H2 employed a more complicated scheme that allowed for "weapon control" as an effective strategy. The Beta seems more akin to H1's method than H2's; at least it was not necessary for a power weapon to be dropped or depleted before it respawned.

However, the Beta did seem to have another spawning problem: player spawns.

It may be simply inherent to the genre and not anything the designers can do anything about, but the act of spawning a player on the battlefield seems to upset the course of a game far more often than seems desireable.

The Beta would gleefully spawn you next to enemies, or even in the middle of a running firefight, condemning you to die in the crossfire. It would spawn you just behind an enemy that had spawned ahead of you, giving you an easy kill. It would spawn you directly in front of a moving vehicle, awarding the lucky driver with a splatter.

Team slayer games that began with clear territorial biases (one team spawns on the beach, the other in the base on High Ground) would shift as players moved. Suddenly you'd find the player you just killed who was trying to advance on your defensive position on the top of the wall has spawned behind you. The only thing less enjoyable than that would be advancing all the way down to the beach to camp the opposing team's spawns.

I'm not sure there's really a solution to this. Dead players have to be brought into the game somewhere. They have to be brought in at multiple locations, and as long as players are allowed to roam over those spots this problem is going to occur. I can only wonder aloud if a temporary period of invulnerability (and perhaps lack of weapons functionality) upon spawning is warranted, to give opponents time to notice you and spawning players a chance to run for a weapon, take cover, or both. Perhaps explain it as a side effect of a Spartan's energy shields powering up.

It seems to me that reducing number of kills that occur within three seconds of spawning-- regardless of who does the killing-- would be a good thing. It would minimize the perception that players appear from nowhere and are either dying or getting a kill because someone was otherwise unaware of their presence.

0
Your rating: None

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Black Guard's picture
Black Guard
Offline
Joined: 06/02/2005
Spawning

I haven't played the Halo 3 beta, but why is player spawning such a issue only now? Is it worse than Halo: CE & 2 (due to power weapons etc.)? Or are you pointing out a problem with the series in general?

narcogen's picture
narcogen
Offline
Joined: 05/26/1999
Systematic problem

As I mentioned, I think that this is a problem, in general, for all games in the genre that don't treat it specially (i.e., through temporary invulnerability or other means).

It's only a specific criticism of the Halo 3 beta in the sense that some of the spawn behaviors seemed a bit extreme. For instance, while it's possible to spawn camp in many shooters, Halo 2 included, the game does TRY and avoid spawning players in the midst of battles. It looks for places where there's less activity. If a player is standing right on or near a spawn point, the game won't use that spawn point, whereas H3 seemed willing to.

Also, spawn points were placed in direct line of sight to major objectives, meaning that players that spawn first rush forward only to be killed by players spawning in directly behind them. Other spawn points are placed within direct line of sight with known sniping spots (the laser tower) instead of behind cover.


Rampant for over se7en years.

Anton P Nym's picture
Anton P Nym
Offline
Joined: 08/06/2004
Spawning issues seemed to change during the Beta

During the F&F week of the Beta I thought Bungie had finally nailed the spawns. However, as time went by I did see more and more issues crop up with awkward (spawn facing a wall?) or outright bad (in the middle of a firefight?) spawns.

I'm wondering if something was tweaked for the Crackdown rollout that changed it, or if I just didn't notice them while exploring and learning?

In any case, here's hoping the heat maps and other raw data from the Beta helps refine the spawns for September.

-- Steve enjoyed the heck out of the beta even with the bugs, though. Things look promising for the fall.

narcogen's picture
narcogen
Offline
Joined: 05/26/1999
Time-Out Corner

Anton P Nym wrote:
During the F&F week of the Beta I thought Bungie had finally nailed the spawns. However, as time went by I did see more and more issues crop up with awkward (spawn facing a wall?) or outright bad (in the middle of a firefight?) spawns.

The way it was explained to me was that you're spawned facing in the same direction relative to the map grid that you were facing when you died.

So if you are killed at the top of the sniper tunnel on High Ground, while facing the bunker, and you get spawned inside the bunker, you'll be looking at the bunker's interior wall. Very disorienting.

If you die while running uphill towards the base and are spawned at the back of the base (which tends to happen when the opposing team has advanced all the way to the beach) then you'll most certainly be facing the back wall. Takes an extra few fractions of a second to orient yourself, but those few fractions can mean everything.

Anton P Nym wrote:
I'm wondering if something was tweaked for the Crackdown rollout that changed it, or if I just didn't notice them while exploring and learning?

In any case, here's hoping the heat maps and other raw data from the Beta helps refine the spawns for September.

-- Steve enjoyed the heck out of the beta even with the bugs, though. Things look promising for the fall.

Oh, I did, too.

I'm not sure that spawn behavior changed after F&F, although I suppose it could have. I think it perhaps more likely that the introduction of BTB Training and BTB simply meant larger games, more deaths, and therefore busier spawn points.


Rampant for over se7en years.

narcogen's picture
narcogen
Offline
Joined: 05/26/1999
Halo PC spawns

Incidentally, the Halo PC demo had massive spawn problems on Blood Gulch. You could drive a Warthog around and get killtaculars just by splattering spawned players. The game would easily wait quite awhile before spawning that player inside a base or across the map.


Rampant for over se7en years.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Yes, fix the bad spawns Bungie

I died so many times on Highground when two or three enemy players spawned behind me. They spawned just a few feet away from me and not one of them showed up on my motion tracker. It's
irritating, to say the least. Bungie definitely needs to address this before the game ships.

Syndicate content